Intelligence Report: Unconventional problems for Illinois congressmen Jesse Jackson Jr. and Mark Kirk ahead of political conventions

August 16, 2012 (CHICAGO)

In this Intelligence Report: Concerns that two of Illinois' biggest political names won't be able to fulfill their roles as convention delegates.

South Side Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and first-term Senator Mark Kirk are both recovering from serious illnesses. That is posing an unconventional problem for both men and their staffs as the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions are right around the corner.

The I-Team has learned that Representative Jackson will not be attending the Democrats' convention as he continues treatment at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar depression.

Four years ago, at the last Democratic convention, Congressman Jackson had a speaking role and made news when he offered up a group hug for Mayor Richard M. Daley, Governor Rod Blagojevich and Speaker Michael Madigan.

When the Democrats gather in Charlotte on September 3, Jackson Jr., a superdelegate from Illinois, won't be there, according to a high-ranking official in the congressman's office who asked not to be named.

Last week, the congressman's wife, 7th Ward Alderman Sandi Jackson, seemed hopeful that doctors would clear her husband's return to public life but put no specific date on it.

"We want him to come back," Sandi Jackson said. "We expect that he will come back. The exact date for when he will come back has not yet been determined."

Senator Mark Kirk has been recovering from a serious stroke in January. While a spokesman for Kirk tells the I-Team that no decision has been made about Kirk attending the GOP convention, where he is scheduled to be a delegate, Republican delegates begin gathering next weekend in Tampa. The GOP convention is gaveled into session on August 27, a week from Monday.

It is unclear whether Senator Kirk would be replaced as a Republican delegate. A spokesman for the Illinois Democratic delegation says that congressman Jackson will not be, even though there are available alternates.

Also Thursday: Word that Jackson had a visitor Thursday at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota: former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy, who battled bipolar disorder himself. After meeting, Kennedy said Jackson is facing deep depression and has a lot of work ahead for a full recovery.

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